Third-person point of view:
It had been some time since the fight erupted, and the landscape had become desolate. The once cheerful and illuminated tavern had been reduced to shattered foundations and a few pieces of wood here and there, the last remnants of its existence.
Some glimmers were glimpsed from time to time in the deeper darkness caused by the black barrier. The previously orderly formation had disintegrated, not because they were losing or exhausted, but because the stronger ones naturally fought against the stronger ones, separating the group of shadow servants.
A young girl with black hair and eyes stared at the scene in front of her, her snub nose and delicate pink lips pursed into a grimace, wondering if she’d make it out alive. She rummaged through her black robes, the sound of battle screams and explosions in the background. (As a new recruit, she didn’t have a dimensional ring, and this was her first mission.) She drew the magic stone out, feeling its rough surface. When she drew her hand to her face, a fist-sized black quartz appeared in her vision. She focused, channeling some of her magical power into the stone. She also included her intention.
‘Guard the young masters.’ She begged, almost prayed. The stone heated up, as if in response to her plea. Following that, an eerie, almost ominous shadow crept out to take the shape of a dome, protecting the young masters standing guard. Charlotte with a bow she’d found thrown with only an arrow, firmly pressed against the string, and Nathaniel with his daggers, which he preferred to the sword.
The girl stowed the stone once more, making sure to maintain a steady flow of magic. And she returned her attention to the fight, unconcerned about her young masters, who were safe as long as she lived and did not deplete their reserves of power.
She extended both hands, ready to help anyone in need. But she was distracted by a distant explosion. In the distance, two blurs were fighting. One was black, blending in with the landscape, like a specter leaving a trail of terror wherever it went, and the other was white, colliding and launching attacks that were invisible to the mage girl due to their speed.
“Chief novem…” She said, hoping that their fight would be over soon.
Away from Nathaniel and Charlotte, the sound of metal colliding with metal echoed, and two figures engaged in a death match. One of the figures was a beautiful woman with straight black hair that was a little messy and had a sweat on her brow. Her gaze was drawn to the supersonic movements of the spear that threatened to sever her. Her leather armor, with silver accents, was a little worn. Her well-worked trunk was revealed by a patch of exposed skin just to the side of her abdomen. That spot was a red and dripped a little blood.
On the other side, the white-haired man danced with his spear, attempting to avoid Novem’s blows by becoming invisible from time to time in the hope of confusing her. However, his strategy was failing miserably. He had scratches and puncture wounds all over his body, and his blood bathed his clothes in red. He could feel the horrible sensation of wetness all over his body, and he didn’t like how he was becoming less aware of the pain.
Novem moved, leaving a crater beneath her feet that tangled like electrical tendrils all over the ground. Her hair billowed in front of the white-haired man, and the wind snapped at her back, as if the air itself was protesting the force of her thrust. She sent a slash straight to the man’s throat, cones of air formed with her movement and her arm broke the sound barrier.
The white-haired man named Grey slid his spear down his arm, every hair on his body standing on end due to the murderous intent emanating from the stoic woman. Holding it by the shaft, his hand felt the familiar roughness of one of the spear’s support areas, which gave him the courage to try to deflect the attack, which seemed to get stronger with every inch it advanced.
Novem’s dagger slid across the smooth surface of the spear as the two weapons collided. A flurry of reddish sparks flew around, accompanied by high-pitched screeching from the spear, as if it was in pain from the attack. Without letting go of the momentum gained from missing her target, Novem twisted her torso and sent an elbowing directly into the man’s face, hoping to end this fight once and for all by destroying his head.
The man’s eyes widened like saucers, but everything Grey knew came together in a movement that was the best way out of the situation. Twisting his wrist, he attempted to move the spear in a spinning defense, but he became stuck when he should have felt the lightness of his spear. He watched in horror as one end of his spear was held by Novem with the same hand that had launched the dagger attack earlier.
In a desperate attempt, he used the magic for which he was most adept. Grey summoned a tidal wave of magic, which gathered and lifted several layers of ice as strong as he could in front of him, forming a wall right in front of his face. However, with the crack of glass, Novem’s attack continued, striking the man on the nose. Grey flew backwards, still alive thanks to the last-second layers of defense he could muster. Blood was gushing out of his nose, which had been twisted at an unnatural angle. He could feel his death approaching, but as he prepared for the cold assassin’s attack, a strange pulse of magic caused him to turn his eyes to the right, his peripheral vision alert for a possible surprise attack.
The fight came to a halt for a brief moment as both sensed a surge of magic from where the tavern had previously been. Novem quickly identified the source of the magical disturbance as an artifact resembling a sphere, as it was a fairly common item among assassins.
‘A one-way teleportation artifact.’ she thought to herself. Typically used to flee by leaving an anchor stone somewhere else. The only drawback to these stones was their low reliability, as they only worked about sixty percent of the time. But for assassins who are generally disposable, it was a reasonable probability.
Novem averted her gaze from her adversary, who was panting heavily and dripping blood onto the dirt floor, creating a deathly melody with his heavy breathing. “Your boss is leaving.” She remarked, hoping the man would give up.
Instead of the expected response, the man smiled, his white teeth stained with blood. “I didn’t expect anything less from Belora.”
Novem re-asserted her reverse grip on her dagger, hoping to provoke him into lowering his guard. “You sacrifice your life for someone who abandons you.”
Grey, on the other hand, laughed with a snort, spitting blood from his mouth onto the ground. He lifted his shirt and armor slightly, leaning his spear against the earthy ground like a cane, revealing a sinister dark mark on his chest. That mark seemed to emit a sinister red aura… “You and I are the same. The only difference is that I don’t have a choice in the matter.”
“A curse.” Novem recognized instantly.
“Yep.” Grey said this while twirling his spear several times to get used to his grip. Then he charged Novem with a growl, moving at breakneck speed. The man bared his teeth as the two sides collided. “Now, let the fucking Belora escape.”
Novem pushed him away, and a dark but weakened aura grew around her as a result of her disconnection from the shadow dimension. “I don’t care about your master, but in an act of mercy, I’ll kill you quickly.”
Grey moved again, intercepting both of Novem’s daggers, one with his spear, the other with his magic-enhanced arm. The dust rose, making a thunderous sound that shook the ground. When the dust settled, there was a severed arm in the dirt. Grey had used the same arm to deflect Novem’s dagger earlier.
Staring at the arm on the floor in blank surprise Grey laughed. “I don’t want to know your definition of torture if dismembering me is your definition of mercy.”
“This will be easier if you just sit quietly.”
“I know…” Grey sighed and tried to quickly place his only remaining hand over his wound, but Novem wouldn’t let him.
She launched earthen spikes at her target, who attempted to cauterize his wound.
Grey turned his gaze to the side of the field, where his brother was fighting three shadow servants, after he had finished jumping and dodging Novem’s attacks. “However, I must endure a little longer.”
Novem followed the man’s line of sight and quickly realized what was going on. “You know he’ll die as well. The curse will kill him if we do not.”
Gray laughed, and when he saw Novem approaching with the intent of delivering the killing blow, he moved again, narrowly avoiding the direct blow to the windpipe. “But a little hope isn’t so bad, is it?” After regaining his balance, he stated that his spear was more of a staff than a weapon at this point.
Novem didn’t respond this time, just continued to attack, and the man continued to evade, hurting himself more and more.
On the other side, inside the black dome surrounding two people, Nathaniel looked at all the destruction with narrowed eyes.
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“(This is frustrating.)” He couldn’t help but say.
“(Well, we’re still pretty weak, and this battle is way beyond our capabilities.)” Charlotte consoled him, but she knew her brother didn’t care about the fight and instead talked about the situation in general, the things that could have been avoided.
“(The shadow servants aren’t out to capture Belora; they’re just looking out for us.)” Nathaniel’s gaze wandered, stopping at where two shadow servants; a mage, and a warrior occasionally fought with minions of Belora who crossed some terrain, but otherwise, they just watched everything with watchful eyes. “(Should I do it myself?)” Nathaniel wondered, taking a step closer to the barrier, as if channeling energy to try and escape. He was certain that if Belora escaped, he could keep his minions from talking, whether through lack of information or some other means.
“(No!)” Charlotte scolded, her harsh tone surprising even Nathaniel. “(That girl is truly worth risking your life for!?)” Charlotte finally spoke up, her eyes welling up with tears that threatened to spill. She noticed her brother acting strangely, recklessly and without a sense of danger. That’s how she perceived him now.
“(Charlo-)” He tried to comfort his sister, but he was cut off in the middle of his sentence.
“(No!)” She screamed again, stomping her feet on the floor like a child having a temper tantrum. “(What is going on with you?)” she inquired.
Nathaniel attempted to approach her and hug her. “(Just calm down.)”
When his hand came close to his little sister’s silky black hair, he was slapped. “(Calm me down?! You want to go through a sea of enemies on the chance that a man might or might not have information about a girl who will suffer a little?).” Charlotte approached her brother, who looked at her with surprise in his eyes. Charlotte’s red eyes shone with cold apathy, and her lips curved in a mocking, but angry grimace. “(Why? She’ll be raped briefly, and you want to be a hero?).”
Nathaniel frowned and looked his sister in the eyes. Charlotte flinched slightly as she noticed the anger in her brother’s eyes for the first time, but she kept a firm front despite her distress at speaking so bluntly to her brother. Someone had to put a stop to this behavior, similar to her brother’s hero complex, and that someone would be her.
Nathaniel moved closer to his little sister, his face close to hers, looking for any sign of fear, but there wasn’t any. Charlotte was afraid of offending him and making him hate her at the time. “(You still don’t remember)”
Charlotte, who hadn’t realized she’d closed her eyes tightly until now, opened one slightly, staring at her brother’s handsome face inches from her own. “(W-What?)”
Nathaniel sighed as he looked at his little sister’s puzzled expression. He reasoned that since she had forgotten, he should leave it at that. He’d remember for the two of them, but seeing how she was becoming increasingly uninterested in everything except him was quite disturbing. She’d never forgotten so much as she did right now. Perhaps it was a byproduct of the transmigration. “(Everything, including your memories, is jumbled. You suffer from dissociative amnesia. Charlotte, how was your life before you met me? Do you remember?).”
Charlotte rummaged through her memories, trying to recall something. She had a slight headache, and there were gaps in her memory that she had never questioned because she didn’t want to dwell on the past. Her voice shook slightly. “(W-Well, I was too young).” she tried to explain.
Nathaniel, on the other hand, crept closer and closer, sensing that he was on the verge of accomplishing something; that she wouldn’t lose it and turn into a complete sociopath. “(Why are you obsessed with me? Is it because I tried to help you when you were being bullied at school? Do you really believe someone would become obsessed with someone solely for that reason?)”
“(I-not it’s just for that.)” Charlotte shook her head and took a step back. “(Y-you were nice, and I…)”
“(and?)” Nathaniel tried to persuade his sister to finish, but her face was filled with confusion and fear. Nathaniel’s guilt bubbled up inside him, but he knew he had to let it all out, because it was now or never. He finally said, “(I took advantage of you.)”
Charlotte shivered and raised her head, her red eyes reflecting her disbelief. “(B-Big brother never…)”
“(Back then, your mental and physical health was horrible, and mine was no better, so I merely helped you a little, all with double purposes)” Nathaniel looked into Charlotte’s eyes, hoping to see hatred or betrayal.
Charlotte lowered her head, her hair flowing freely on top of her head, concealing her face. She secretly activated her skill and discovered that her brother was not lying. She felt bad; she wasn’t the reason her brother shifted from cold to caring. But she wasn’t heartbroken because, despite the sincerity, there was something else lurking beneath the surface: guilt. A guilt so strong that it was painful to see even with her ability. “(What double intentions?)” Charlotte inquired, unable to summon the courage to look up.
“(I wanted someone mentally weak like you to control at my whim.)”
Charlotte’s breath caught, and she confirmed that it was true, but the guilt emanating from her older brother was growing stronger; she didn’t understand, and she wanted to remember. “(Tell me what the hell happened!)” Charlotte exclaimed, her voice broken. “(You are not required to carry everything by yourself!)” She was getting weaker and weaker, so she went to the barrier wall for support; it was cold to the touch, and she felt her consciousness becoming lighter and lighter. “(You alone… always…)”
She could hear her brother’s voice, but she also noticed a glow in the distance. She recognized it as coming from Belora and her minions. ‘Teleportation.’ She recognized in her increasingly blurred vision, and she was on the ground before she knew it. Her cheek was pressed up against the earthy, wet ground. She closed her eyes and felt a warm touch on her cheek. She recognized her brother’s touch, but it vanished as quickly as it appeared. ‘Don’t go alone.’ She tried but was unable to plead. She passed out.